Charlotte Talks: How The Blinding Of Isaac Woodard Changed The Course Of Civil Rights In The U.S.

Jun 19, 2019

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The beating in 1946 of a decorated World War II veteran has reverberations reaching today.  U.S. District  Judge Richard Gergel shares the remarkable story in his book "Unexampled Courage: The Blinding of Sgt. Isaac Woodard and the Awakening of President Harry S. Truman and Judge J. Waties Waring."

Sergeant Isaac Woodard and his mother
Credit Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library

Isaac Woodard, an African-American man who was a decorated World War II veteran and who was on his way home from the war, was kicked off a bus in South Carolina and arrested after a disagreement with the driver. 

The arresting officer beat him so badly, he was blinded in both eyes. 

This outraged people around the country including President Harry Truman and Orson Welles, but the officer who beat Woodard was acquitted at trial. 

The trial outcome had a profound effect on the presiding judge, J. Waties Waring, who made it his business to find justice for others through future decisions that would influence Civil Rights cases up to Brown v. Board of Education.

Judge J. Waties Waring
Credit South Carolinian Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia, S.C.

Today, another judge, U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel, based in the same Charleston, South Carolina building where Judge Waring once presided, shares the remarkable story in his new book "Unexampled Courage: The Blinding of Sgt. Isaac Woodard and the Awakening of President Harry S. Truman and Judge J. Waties Waring."

He joins host Mike Collins to talk about the book and how the events helped shape key events in civil rights in America.

Guest: 

Richard Gergel, U.S. District Judge in Charleston South Carolina. He’s the author of "Unexampled Courage: The Blinding of Sgt. Isaac Woodard and the Awakening of President Harry S. Truman and Judge J. Waties Waring"

Related:

PBS' Open Mind Program in 1957 featuring Judge J. Waties Waring and Martin Luther King, Jr. on "Defeating Oppression".